I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

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I am thrilled to be sharing Kate Alice Marshall’s new release I Am Still Alive today. This is a heartwrenching tale of strength, survival and one young girl’s determination to overcome the odds stacked against her, and it captivated me from the very first page.

The Book

I am still Alive coverI Am Still Alive
By Kate Alice Marshall
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780425290989
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

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Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.

Jess is stranded in the woods. She has few supplies and only her dog for company. Her survival skills are limited, and she has disabilities that make physical labor a challenge. And winter is on its way. How did she get here?

Alternating between the past and the present, this tightly-paced novel tells the story of a girl who survived a car crash that killed her mother, then was pulled from foster care and sent to live with her estranged survivalist father in the remote Canadian wilderness. Jess was just beginning to get to know her dad when a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving their cabin burned to the ground and Jess’s father dead. Now, Jess must fight with everything she has to forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. But she will survive. She has to survive. Because she wants revenge.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository


My Thoughts

Every now in then, I love to deviate from my normal reading habits and explore something different. I knew immediately upon reading the synopsis for I Am Still Alive that this was the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. And it proved to be a solid reminder of why it pays to explore books!

I A Still Alive_Aesthetic.pngPhotos above are not owned by me and were obtained via Pinterest.

This is Jess’s story. She has had her life turned upside down and finds herself dealing with the loss of her mother and an injury that has left her with very limited use of one leg and disfigured after a terrible car accident. When she is sent to live with her off the grid and estranged father in a remote part of the Canadian wilderness, her life spirals further out of control as men from his shady past come to collect a debt he cannot pay. As Jess remains hidden in the nearby woods, he is shot and killed while her only remaining home is burned to the ground. Now, alone and stranded with no means to seek help, she must fight for her very existence. But Jess wants more than survival, she wants revenge.

Kate Alice Marshall’s delivers an outstanding tale in the form of a brilliant protagonist. Jess presents as very pragmatic and relatable, establishing an effortless connection with the reader that only strengthens as the story unfolds. Each decision, response, setback, and accomplishment feel viable, convincingly exposing the reader to Jess’s solitary trials. I never found myself doubting or questioning her feelings or actions, I simply felt for her and with her.

The plot unfolds at a consistent pace that makes for a fast read. We are shown what is happening instead of being spoonfed unnecessary details and the result is an immersive experience that draws the reader in and feels complete. If I were to mention any possible issues with I Am Still Alive, it would be that I had anticipated more of a revenge-oriented tale based on the blurb. However, I was not disappointed as Jess proved to be an unexpected heroine who evolved beautifully. I was with her each step of the way. And therein lies the true reward of this survival tale.

I Am Still Alive manages to deliver on multiple fronts with an unlikely protagonist and a successful survival story. Offering a unique before and after narrative and quick pace, it proves that strength truly comes from within and is not to be limited to physical abilities.

TW: Grief, loss, disabilities, violence and some graphic scenes with animals.

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This is another book I paired with an earthier blend. I enjoyed it with a Pu-erh tea that had a hint of cocoa.


KateMarshallPhoto About The Author

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She works in the gaming industry as a writer and designer, most recently focusing on educational games for kids of all ages. She spends her winters cheerfully avoiding the rain, and during the summer ventures out to kayak and camp along Puget Sound. As Kate Marshall, her short fiction has appeared in venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Crossed Genres.


I would like to thank Penguin and Viking Books for my copy and allowing me to participate in the tour today. The above review is my own honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy Reading,

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Book Extract: No Fourth River by Christine Clayfield

Today I am pleased to share an extract from Christine Clayfield’s ‘No Fourth River‘ as part the blog tour hosted by Bookollective.


The Book

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No Fourth River
By Christine Clayfield
Publisher: RASC Publishing
ISBN: 9781999840914
Pages: 217
Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir

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Electroshock therapy, child abuse and modern-day slavery… just another day in Christine’s life.

Take a heart-wrenching yet inspiring ride through one woman’s incredible journey that is so compelling that you are simultaneously trying to look away and unable to stop yourself from reading on.

Christine’s father is a wealthy, tyrannical man renowned in the diamond business. At the age of just five, little Christine is cast aside into a boarding school where she is ridiculed for two embarrassing problems. She grows up in a never-ending circle of traumatic experiences both in her boarding school and at home. It culminates into a falling out between father and child that was never fully mended, leading her into a world of promiscuity and alcohol, eventually landing her in a violent marriage.

Driven to the limits of despair and heartache, she creates a plan to escape her world of misery. Will her plan work?

A story that asks: How do you find the strength, when you suffer almost unbearable abuse and are broken beyond repair, to pick up the pieces of a shattered life?

Purchase a copy: Amazon.com Amazon.UK


Extract: Growing Up, Down

We were all survivors, programmed from the very start of life to tiptoe around the pillar of fury that was my father. He was the kind of man who would strip his children of all self-esteem, then blame us when we could not perform. He delighted in mental harassment and physical beatings.

He was a chain-smoking, whisky-swilling king of the diamond trade. A tyrant to his children.

My brothers and I learned all about the dark, solitary places of our house—either to hide in or as a forced punishment. At five, I remember hearing noises from behind the cellar door one morning, so I investigated, only to find my brother Oliver huddled in the corner on the cold stone floor, throwing rocks at the wall. My father had sent him there the night before, without supper.

“Oliver, you okay?” I screeched, taking note of his wide, round eyes. They were full of fear and something else…shame.

It was dirty in the cellar and the stone was so cold that the air coming up from the bottom felt like a wave of freezing mist. He was trapped down there, alone in a frozen ocean of stone, framed by the light coming from my open door.

“Shh, dad might hear,” he called up to me.

“He’s not home.” I sniffled at the weakness and helplessness of my words. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t. It was against the rules.

“What happened?” At least I could give him some company.

“I’m not allowed to grow my hair. Dad told me to cut it, and I told him I wanted to keep it long.” A slight hint of anger lined his voice.

I would not understand that feeling until I was much older.

“Oh. You look cold.”

“I am cold.”

“Should I bring you a blanket?” I noticed there wasn’t so much as a towel on the floor where he sat.

“Better not. I’ll be fine. You go upstairs and play.” He turned his face into the darkness of the cellar. I obeyed and gently shut the door on my brother and walked to the lounge, where my other brothers were. Oliver was not allowed out of the cellar for four days over a long weekend.

Mum brought him a plate of food, once a day. There was no washroom, and he would do his nature calls in a plastic pot with a lid on that mum had to clean every day.


About the Author

christine

Born in 1959, the successful UK business woman and author Christine Clayfield has achieved recognition as a Bestselling Author for one of her Internet marketing books. She has written 6 books: 1 novel (her own life story) and 5 business books.

Christine is an author, wife, mother and business woman.

You can connect with Christine:
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Christine’s past holds much pain and abuse, but it did not stop her from being the woman she is today by changing her life and building the future she wanted. She wants to empower and inspire the world with the release of “No Fourth River”, a novel, based on a true story: her own life.

Life was certainly no easy ride for her. To say she had a hard life as a child and a young adult, is an understatement. ‘No Fourth River’, is her way to let the world know that despite the pain of your past, YOU have the ability to change your future. YOU can make it happen if you just believe. It all starts with YOU.

Christine loves writing books and helping others to achieve business success! She has helped countless people to get to grips with making money online and publishing books.

For more information:
www.christineclayfield.com
www.NoFourthRiver.com


I want to extend a special thank you to Aimee with Bookollective and the author for allowing me to particpate and providing the extract today!

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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Book Extract: That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina

Today I am pleased to share something different with an extract of Valeria Vescina’s ‘That Summer in Puglia’ as the final stop on the blog tour hosted by Bookollective.


The Book

that_summer_in_pugliaThat Summer in Puglia
By Valeria Vescina
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
ISBN: 9781912477999
Pages: 303

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Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

Purchase A Copy: Amazon  Amazon.UK  Book Depository


Extract From Chapter 4 of That Summer in Puglia

‘I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with you.  You’re going to break my heart, I know it already.’  

‘I’ll never do that.’  We kissed again. Her perfume, flowery and faint, almost made me light-headed.  ‘My God, you’re so beautiful,’ I said.

‘I hope I’m not your God.’  

We both laughed.  

Anna might have said it in jest, but that sentence – ‘I hope I’m not your God’ – has rung in my ears again and again.  Anna’s love felt like an unparalleled blessing. For her and with her I would have perfected any aspect of myself, though she made me feel loved in my entirety; for a time, she could have said the same.  If there’s a God, love between human beings can bring us as close to Him as we’ll ever get.  Cynics scoff at the mention of loves like ours, but their arguments sow misery: too many people settle for second-best in the belief they’re being ‘realistic’, and before long become cynics in turn.  Countless human beings will never experience the kind of love I’m describing, and there it was, being served to Anna and me on a plate. So young. Too young.

How, you might ask, can I have the arrogance of asserting that it wasn’t the elation of ‘first love’, or of the early phase of love, that made ours feel so extraordinary?  

The stubborn rationalist I once was – before falling in love with Anna – would almost certainly have answered by listing some facts: the generous dose of interests we shared; presumably a sprinkling of unconscious mutual needs; a fortunate correspondence and complementarity of qualities…  It wouldn’t be untrue. But it would deny the magic – the most important, yet most elusive, of all facts. How tragically reductive that would be. All I can do is to leave you with my certainty of how it felt to be loved by, and to love, Anna – and with a thought: the man who concluded that ‘The Heart knows reasons whereof Reason knows nothing’ wasn’t a hopeless romantic but a stern mathematician.  

In the days which followed the evening in Villanova, we spent every spare moment together, at and outside school.  We dived into our pasts and resurfaced with fragments of memory which the other greeted like priceless finds – stories about our childhoods, our families, friends, old schools, trips…  We shared hidden moments – the hilarious, the painful and the most embarrassing ones – without inhibitions. It’s difficult to remember examples of them now, to fish them out of what feels like a torrent.  But I do recall telling Anna of my maternal grandfather.

He and my grandmother died when I was thirteen.  During my childhood, at our customary Sunday lunch with them, he sometimes offered me two one-hundred-lire coins, provided I managed to keep them under my armpits for the whole meal – an old-fashioned method for teaching table manners.  At age five I was unable to keep my elbows stuck to my ribcage and the coins dropped within seconds onto the floor; at age seven they slid inexorably down my arms until their high-pitched ding on the ceramic tiles chimed my fiasco. Dad’s regular protestations against this practice – a surreptitious cruelty to which I was a willing party, lured by those elusive coins – provoked periods of grudging silences between him and my grandparents.  I must have been eight when at another of Grandpa’s attempts my father’s exasperation spilt over.

‘Isn’t it bad enough that you… already did this to Emma?’  

My grandfather stiffened in his chair.  ‘Did what?’

‘Drummed that pernicious sense of your family’s bygone ‘rightful place in the world’ into her head, and – now I understand – even into her movements.  You want to do the same to my son? Never.’ He poured himself a glass of wine, and took a swig.  

Grandma clutched Grandpa’s arm.  He pulled his glasses closer, the better to glare at Dad.  

Mum looked from him to her parents, and back again.  ‘How can you be so disrespectful?’ Her voice was shaky.  ‘To my father, to me…’

‘Darling, I have huge respect for you.  More than that. You’re the love of my life.  But the whole attitude behind such things – ’ he pointed to the coins on the tablecloth – ‘hasn’t done you any good, has it?’  

‘Ha!’  My mother crossed her arms.  

I watched, uneasy.  I had never witnessed a flare-up between my parents.  Dad’s humour, or Mum’s fondness for him, normally defused their little disagreements.  

‘It’s painful to watch how hard you have to work to overcome your snootiness – whether towards other guests at a party, or towards the grocer, the…’ Dad said.  ‘Being able to enjoy conversations with perfectly nice people shouldn’t require such effort. And that’s progress, compared to when we first met.’

‘You – ’ Mum stammered.  ‘Blowing things out of proportion like this.  Father was only encouraging good manners in Tommaso.  You should be grateful.’

Grandpa nodded, his eyebrows a scowl, his cheeks hollow.  

Dad sighed, and said nothing.  

But my grandfather never subjected me to the exercise of the coins again.   

So you see?  Episodes and feelings of which I had never spoken – presumably considering them unworthy of anyone’s interest or maybe fearful of others’ judgment – tumbled out of my lips and were met with understanding, warmth and humour.  To the example I have given you, I believe Anna quipped she had never thought of coins as torture instruments. I can still see her, shaking her head in sympathy as you have done, while I recounted this and other incidents, or laughing with me when I told her of happier ones.  I, in turn, couldn’t get enough of the glimpses of the life she had led until then, of the slivers of time that had gone into who she was.

‘I wish I had known you years ago,’ I kept saying.  

‘I wish I had known you, too.’  

I suppose that, through the sharing of details from our past and present, we were seeking to overcome that impossibility.  


About The Author

valeria

Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA (Eyewear Publishing, 2018) is her debut novel. Her activity as a critic includes reviews for Seen And Heard International, Talking Humanities and the European Literature Network . She has taught creative writing workshops on the narrative potential of various art forms. Valeria also holds a degree in International Studies (University of Birmingham) and a Sloan Msc. in Management (London Business School).

Follow Valeria Vescina: Website  Twitter


I want to extend a special thank you to Aimee with Bookollective and the author for allowing me to particpate and providing the extract today!

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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